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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 05-07-2024 15:27

CFK, Massa, Kicillof: Tussle for Peronist protagonism clashes with calls for unity

Former presidential candidate Sergio Massa will break his silence on the first Saturday of August with criticism of Javier Milei’s government. Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof continues to raise his national profile, with next year’s battles being brought forward.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner pressed the accelerator and was already criticising the Javier Milei government back in February, well ahead of when she herself was thinking of doing so. She was convinced that dollarisation was around the corner and that never before had anybody moved so fast against Argentina’s middle class, above all. Axel Kicillof followed suit in every rally, pointing out the negative consequences of libertarian austerity. Now Sergio Massa, who has stayed mum since losing last year’s election, will break his silence on the first Saturday of August, a moment when he believes the government “will have run out of excuses.”

The trio form part of an alliance which did not splinter after the electoral defeat of Unión por la Patria, but they maintain differences over Peronism’s future path. Although they speak among themselves, the internal wounds are far from healed. Each has a different vision of the stance to adopt towards the government of the last six months.

Last Monday saw a photo to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Juan Domingo Perón. Máximo Kirchner this time accepted an invitation from Kicillof with both of them appearing together. But Massa did not participate, taking care to serve notice that no leader of his Frente Renovador party would do so either. Although he speaks fortnightly with Kicillof, his criticisms of the the Buenos Aires Province governor’s inner circle do not cease. 

“It’s logical that they do not go – we’ll be paying tribute to Perón and cannot imagine Sergio there,” they remark ironically from government house in La Plata. The excuse of Massa’s allies for not participating had to do with not wishing to become hostages of “any infighting, either on one side or the other.”

 

Reappearance

Massa, the former economy minister who lost to Milei in last year’s run-off, will reappear on August 3 to present his new book, Querer un país. After months of silence, why is he finally planning to speak? 

“Six months of government have already gone by leaving results and they already have their ‘Ley de Bases’ [omnibus bill] … so they have run out of excuses,” Massa tells his confidants. 

He envisages only three more months of patience among the citizenry with almost 40 percent still supporting Peronism. Until now, the people would prefer “to eat weeds” rather than see them return to power.
Massa assures those close to him that Peronism will not splinter and that he will do everything possible to prevent that happening, repeating to everybody with whom he meets: “We cannot fight.” 

He even spoke to Kicillof about his hasty national stance, telling him: “You’re rushing it.” It’s true – the Buenos Aires Province governor does move fast and not a day passes without his administration expressing opposition to the Milei government. 

“There is a discussion as to whether it is convenient to come out and play ball or not. Those who say we should not move do not understand that in the end they will blame us anyway,” they say in the La Plata government’s entourage with regards to the future role assigned to Peronism.

That’s why Kicillof makes his moves to show that in 2027 he could be an option. “In the face of the processes of crisis in Argentina, the alternative has always been Peronism,” they affirm from within his entourage.

 

Convinced

Fernández de Kirchner is convinced of the protagonism of Congress and the governors. This is where Peronism should weave alliances to halt austerity policies, she believes. That is why next year’s electoral line-up will not leave her out. CFK has much to say and will do so more often, without caring about the format.

Although some increasingly question Kirchnerism for hand-picking candidates, the former vice-president has made it clear that if it had been up to her, the fate of Milei’s mega-reform in the Senate – with Edgardo Kueider (Entre Ríos) and Carlos Mauricio Espínola (Corrientes) supplying quorum – would have been different. Her senatorial slates, which did not come through the party’s bargaining, had La Cámpora candidates for those provinces.

What is true is that in territories where any negotiation with provincial governors and territorial leaders can be skipped, Kirchnerism and, above all, La Cámpora know how to overrun tickets. And this is one of the most conflictive points in Buenos Aires Province. 

Fernández de Kirchner made sure of all the names she needed in Congress and Máximo Kirchner was the big winner in the distribution of seats for the Buenos Aires provincial Legislature. Next year this will be a main focus of tension, finally leading to Peronism either breaking up or remaining united. Either way, it will be disorganised.

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Rosario Ayerdi

Rosario Ayerdi

Jefa de Política. Mail: [email protected]

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